Bad breath is one of those conditions that we easily notice in others and can be self-conscious about our own, but rarely do we point it out to anyone besides close family and friends. Residents of Anamosa and elsewhere might be surprised to learn, however, that bad breath isn’t always due to what you’ve been eating or drinking recently. It could also signal what’s going on in your body, including recent health changes.
Whether you’re feeling fine or needing hospice care, the team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice encourages everyone to learn more about everything that makes up their breath. This is mainly because it’s interesting, but secondly, if you or someone close to you are thinking that a smell is new or out of the ordinary, it’s not a bad idea to mention it to a health care provider or at least a dental provider. Certain stronger smells could be early indicators that something different might be taking place in your mouth or body, not just the leftover aroma from your lunch.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a health blog that’s part of Harvard Medical School, about 30 percent of the population has some sort of bad breath, which generally goes by the scientific name halitosis.
Bad breath can come from inside the mouth and from other parts of the body. The most common form for it is due to dental health. Food recently eaten can remain between your teeth and gums. Plus, plaque can stick on the surface of your teeth, which is called gingivitis.
Depending on the state of your teeth, this could create conditions where the food bits can smell as well as the rest of the dental tissue. As food breaks down it also creates its own harsh smells. Other dental conditions, such as cavities, teeth damage, or gum disease, can produce certain other smells.
A lack of hydration can also cause the mouth to smell, so it’s important to always keep saliva moving around and being produced.
This is part of the reason why dental professionals urge regular brushing and flossing as well as regular check-ups and professional cleaning. All of these can contribute to cutting down on the conditions that can cause bad breath. Part of what gum and mouthwash do is help improve the smell and also help reach hard-to-get areas to remove food particles. Some of these are temporary measures and won’t fix larger issues, but can at least improve the smell on a temporary basis, which can be useful for interpersonal encounters (interacting with family, co-workers, or clients.)
Dental professionals will be happy to discuss ways to focus or improve your dental conditions and regimen which can also have the benefits of improving your breath.
Beyond bad breath related to dental conditions or other things in the mouth, there could be other reasons why someone may have bad breath.
It might be related to lifestyle: cigarette smoking can cause bad breath, not just from the smoke but other chemicals. Drinking alcohol can also cause noticeable halitosis while drinking and for several hours afterward. Excessive drinking can cause gagging, burning, or vomiting that can also affect the breath for several hours afterward.
Seniors sometimes have problems producing less saliva, especially earlier in the day before they eat or drink much.
Bad breath can take place when the body processes certain foods, which may vary depending on that person’s food and their metabolism. That’s why onions, garlic are known to cause halitosis for days, long after someone has brushed and flossed.
Certain minerals and vitamins are also known to cause halitosis as they break down. Again, many seniors may fall in this category as they take regular doses of vitamins and medications each day. Their medications may have their own smell as well as their vitamins and related supplements. Someone taking large amounts of a certain medication, such as medicine for chemotherapy or cancer
Many of the mainstream health sites that discuss bad breath also warn of halitosis that’s noticeable without an obvious cause.
This could include:
- Organ failure. A variety of problems can take place if organs stop working, or at least stop working at their regular levels of efficiency. For instance, if the liver, which is responsible for filtering out toxins, stops working well, all sorts of problems can occur.
- Intestines that are completely or fully blocked can cause pain as well as strong odors throughout the body.
- “Strong smell” isn’t as common of a warning sign of pneumonia, compared to the pain, fatigue, or breathing difficulties. But weakened lungs can also cause bad smells.
- Rapid fat loss. People have noticeable poor health and unusually poor breath if they’re losing weight rapidly. This could be due to an extreme diet where plenty of pounds are shed in a hurry. In this case, some of the smell may come from the body fat being broken down by the body. Those with existing insulin balance problems, such as those dealing with diabetes, may even have larger problems and stronger breath.
For those interested in learning more, Aug. 6 is National Fresh Breath Day, an opportunity to research different items that could cause poor breath and also learn to reduce other factors.